Networked_Performance

[-empyre-] Biennales Plus and Minus

[Image: A single spark can start a prairie fire’ 星星之火,可以燎原 – by 4 Gentlemen] Exchange between Tim Murray, John Craig Freeman, and Tamiko Thiel on -empyre-:

Tim wrote: I’m interested by the participants (ManifestAR Venice Biennial AR Intervention) choice not to extend the availability of the works more broadly online as net.art pieces. Was this choice a technological determination related to the smartphone interface and the desire for onsite intervention or were there added considerations involved.

John Craig Freeman wrote: Hi Tim et al, Technically the works in the ManifestAR Venice Biennial AR Intervention are net art, as they use both mobile and wifi networks. I get your point however. The site-specificity of this technology is exactly what attracts me to it.

In the late 80’s, early 90, like a hand full of other artists, notably Louis Hoch, Liz Sisco, David Avalos, http://crca.ucsd.edu/~esisco/bus/index.html, and I http://institute.emerson.edu/vma/faculty/john_craig_freeman/public_art/operation_greenrun_2/media/ten_8.html were exploring interventionist art in site specific public space. There are two points that I think are relevant to this discussion.

First is the question of who owns so called ‘public space?’ These early projects proved that it was naive to think that the public did. Even the nationstate was loosing its grip. By the late twentieth century the burgeoning multinational media conglomerates had already begun to assert their dominion over public space and our eyeballs.

The second point, or question, is w(h)ether it is possible for site-specific works of art intervention/action/performance can catalyze political discourse or even effect direct political change? The lesson I have learned after doing this for over two decades, is that being there does matter.

As I wrote on this list last month, in the 90s I followed the migration of the public sphere from physical space into the Internet, as did many artists who were interested in art and politics. The content of the work that I made always remained tethered to location, but its distribution became… well, distributed. Although this was a fascinating realm for experimental art practices, I have always felt the work was dislocated, which of course it was. Augmented reality brings location back to networked art practices.

Water wARs was conceived of as a project which would grow like a virus around the edges of the gated communities of Southern California. As the ManifestAR group began to discuss the possibilities of an intervention at the Venice Biennial, it seemed only fitting to create a squatters pavilion (padiglione occupatore abusivo) since that is essentially what we would be doing. I will document the growth of the shantytown in Giardini and in the Piazza San Marco on the blog over the summer, for the duration of the Biennial and its subsequent spread to southern California next fall, but the project is fundamentally not a web art project. I would be interested to hear any ideas about how it might become one.

I saw the Stateless Immigrant group in Giardini, but I didn’t know what they were up to until it started to reverberate on the Internet, via press accounts, twitter, Micha’s blog etc. I wish I had known. I would have loved to have gotten some pictures of the group in their tent next to the Water wARs shanty. The fact that the group got this list discussing the working conditions of the ACTV Venice public transportation workers, is a modest but tangible political effect, proving that even no-tech located art practices become networked as they bring the virtual public sphere to bear. I was happy to have my travels around Venice disrupted by the strike and thrilled to hear about it on Empyre. Solidarietà!

Finally, ManifestAR was founded in order to challenge institutional and state ownership of space. Although the Chinese government has not yet figured out how to stop 4Gentlemen from doing what they do, http://fourgentlemen.blogspot.com/, one thing I am realizing through all of this, is that the premis(e) that augmented space is somehow more democratic and free than the physical, is nonsense. It is just not owned by governments or institutions yet, but it has some of the biggest, most powerful corporations in the world vying for position, Verizon, T-Moble, Vodaphone, Comcast etc. etc. Network access was all but impossible in Venice and we all pay dearly. I think I will have to make my next project about this.

Tamiko wrote:

Hi Tim,

Thanks for the interesting question on why we did not make the artworks available as netart!

The Layar technology (www.layar.com) that we use for the intervention is intrinsically location specific. It geolocates a virtual artwork at a specific GPS location, and when you are physically present at that location and search on the name of the artwork you can see it overlayed on a camera view of the environment you are standing in.

Our artworks for the Venice Biennial Intervention were very much produced as site specific artworks for the two locations of the Giardini and Piazza San Marco, and therefore may have a somewhat different meaning, and certainly have a different emotional impact, at another location.

This was made most forcefully apparent to me when I developed the AR artwork “Carnation Rain (Largo do Carmo)” for Carmo Square in Lisbon, where the Carnation Revolution began. At any other location this animated rain of carnations is perhaps pretty, perhaps kitschy. But in Carmo Square, where historic images show the distinctive buildings of that square surrounded by tanks and soldiers, and these soldiers (slightly later!) with carnations in their gun barrels, “Carnation Rain” creates – imho – a powerful and moving statement: http://www.mission-base.com/tamiko/AR/carnation-rain.html

It is obviously possible to separate the artworks from their context, and they can be meaningful without those contexts – but the meaning shifts, as it does with for instance Andy Goldworthy’s ordered nature artworks taken out of their natural setting, or for that matter any other site-specific works.

Actually, Richard Rinehart is right now playing with this question in “Not Here,” the exhibit of our Venice artworks that he is NOT showing in the Bucknell University Samek Art Gallery right now. See his press release at: http://www.bucknell.edu/x70622.xml

We have placed copies of the works outside the gallery doors, and they will be “let in” to the gallery in the fall when the university opens again. But when the gallery is open we will show the documentation of the artworks in Venice in their site-specific setting, to lend context to how the works are perceived in the gallery without that context.


Jun 12, 17:15
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